The future of music

36 Best Graduation Songs – Ultimate Graduation Playlist

December 13, 2023
graduation songs

I’ve put together the ultimate graduation playlist, featuring the best graduation songs that capture the feelings of achievement, transition, and hope for the future.

This article is your soundtrack to celebrate this significant milestone, with tunes that resonate with the joy and excitement of graduation day.

Table of Contents

Top graduation songs

  • “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth
  • “You’re Going To Miss This” by Trace Adkins
  • “Eternal Sunshine” by Jhene Aiko
  • “With A Little Help From My Friends” by The O’Neill Brothers Group
  • “Canon in D Major” by Johann Pachelbel
  • “I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlan
  • “We Are Young” by Fun. Ft. Janelle Monáe
  • “Forever Young” by Alphaville
  • “Photograph” by Nickelback
  • “Young Forever” by Jay-Z. Ft. Mr Hudson

1. “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth

Make no mistake.

Graduations are emotional moments.

So, you better get your tissue papers ready in advance. 

After graduation, a few friends will start new jobs.

Others will relocate to new cities.

And some will retreat to their cocoon, never to be heard or seen again. 

See You Again” is an emotional song that prepares graduates for life after the occasion.

Even if you maintain close relationships after the event, you won’t see your friends as often as you would like.

2. “You’re Going To Miss This” by Trace Adkins

One song that’s fast becoming a graduation staple is Trace Adkins‘ “You’re Going to Miss This.”

Written by Lee Thomas Miller and Ashley Gorley, the song highlights the significance of going back to your roots as adulthood looms. 

The relatable sentiments throughout the song give it a powerful meaning as it reminds everyone that sooner or later, they will miss an important stage in their lives.

It’s fair to say that “You’re Going To Miss This” resonates with any graduate.

3. “Eternal Sunshine” by Jhene Aiko

Goodbyes are painful, even more so on big occasions like graduations.

But they don’t have to be that way, as Jhene Aiko tells us in his track, “Eternal Sunshine.”

In this song, Jhene emphasizes that the most important thing is to look back and relive the memories you’ve made throughout the journey.

4. “With A Little Help From My Friends” by The O’Neill Brothers Group

“With a Little Help From My Friends” was written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon.

It is among the last songs the duo wrote as part of the Beatles album.  

While it’s been used in different contexts over the years, there isn’t a more befitting occasion for its instrumental version than graduation. 

Its tempo complements a graduation march, while the lyrics emphasize friendship and unity, making it the perfect song for the moment. 

5. “Canon in D Major” by Johann Pachelbel

You may know it from weddings and similar events, but Johann Pachelbel‘s “Canon in D Major” is such a hit as a graduation song.

Pachelbel’s skillful lyrics have made this song a timeless composition. 

“Canon in D Major” is one of the few graduation songs with an immediate impact, setting the tone for the rest of the day.  

6. “I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlan

In her contemporary tune, Sarah McLachlan expresses the need to worry less about the past and focus on your goals.

It is an inspiring tune with lyrics to go with the occasion. 

Dave Merenda and Seamus Egan are the other songwriters credited with compiling the track.

Precisely, “I Will Remember You” takes a lot of inspiration from Egan’s popular instrumental track, “Weep Not For Memories.”

7. “We Are Young” by Fun. Ft. Janelle Monáe

“We Are Young” by Fun and Janelle Monáe is all about focusing on the present.

It expresses the desire to always live in the moment without worrying about the rest. 

And in doing so, it stresses the need to maximize the present opportunities without becoming anxious about what the future holds.

8. “Forever Young” by Alphaville

“Forever Young” is a classic tune by the German band Alphaville that idealizes the notion of immortality.

It is all about making the most of the qualities that make young people unique.

This song looks at the whole idea of savoring the moment and fits graduations for the same reason.  

9. “Photograph” by Nickelback

“Photograph” by Nickelback is a nostalgic song for reliving unforgettable memories.

The track’s third verse goes, “And this is where I went to school, most of the time had better things to do…” which is just as relatable as it can get. 

Just like Chad Kroeger, the band’s lead singer struggles to get over some memories, so will be the mood during graduation as students remember all that happened and how much they miss it.

10. “Young Forever” by Jay-Z. Ft. Mr Hudson

“Young Forever” is similar to “Forever Young,” summing up the thoughts of staying young and immortal.

It is about relishing the moment.

But at the same time, it highlights the fears of becoming an adult, a constant thought in the minds of many graduates. 

As students prepare for life-changing experiences after school, Jay-Z‘s song reminds them that time flies, and it’s best spent living in the moment.

11. “Goodbye to You” by Michelle Branch

“Goodbye to You” highlights the inevitable goodbyes accompanying any relationship.

Initially, Michelle wrote this song to address a toxic affair. 

But as it turns out, it fits just about any context where relationships take center stage.

And that’s what graduations are all about, if not more.

12. “High Hopes” by Panic! At The Disco

High Hopes” urges individuals to set achievable goals.

It stresses that many people will probably overrate themselves by setting too high expectations only to end up disappointed. 

It also reflects on the challenging journey of life, highlighting what one needs to do to achieve their goals.

13. “Pomp And Circumstances” by Edward Elgar

The list of the best graduation songs is incomplete without mentioning “Pomp And Circumstances” by Edward Elgar.

There’s something about the lyrics that makes it the most befitting option for the big occasion. 

“Pomp And Circumstances” can be traced back as far as 1857 with Edward VII playing a minor role in increasing its popularity.

However, it became an instant sensation as soon as the Americans adopted it a couple of years later.

14. “Look What You’ve Done” by Drake

“Look What You’ve Done” is a Drake masterpiece that sums up the mood you’d expect during graduation. 

While it isn’t all about starting a new chapter, the song has relatable lyrics, especially for someone reflecting on all the success they’ve had throughout the journey. 

Graduations are a chance to show gratitude to all those who made the journey possible.

And that’s what this song is all about.

15. “I Was Here” by Beyoncé

Graduations are also about legacy.

And this Beyoncé song is meant to calm your nerves if you are worried that nobody will remember your legacy and accomplishments.

This song fits the occasion for whatever reason you may want to be remembered.

16. “Long Live” by Taylor Swift

You probably knew that one of Taylor Swift’s best tracks would appear somewhere along the way. 

The American singer has a relatable track for almost any occasion, but her lyrics in “Long Love” are probably the most relevant to any graduate. 

In this song, Swift stresses the need to celebrate the good things in life while reflecting on all the memorable experiences with your loved ones.

There’s no excuse not to play this masterpiece when it’s time to say goodbye.

17. “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic

Graduations are bittersweet moments with plenty of anxiety.

On the one hand, you will be happy to complete a challenging journey and begin a new chapter.

On the other, it is an anxious moment, with plenty of uncertainty over your future. 

Counting Stars” is all about figuring out the next step in life, just like one would do when counting the actual stars.

18. “I Hope You Dance” by Lee ann Womack

Lee ann Womack‘s “I Hope You Dance” is an uplifting song based on a mother’s wish for her children. 

The hope is that the listeners will step out confidently and embrace everything life throws at them while guided by faith and love.

It sums up the overall mood during graduation, describing the actual thoughts at the time.  

19. “Firework” by Katy Perry

“Firework” is an inspirational tune to help the lesser noticeable individuals unleash their potential, even when they feel dejected. 

As graduation approaches, you need a tune that reignites your hidden potential, just like a firework.

And Katy Perry‘s anthem certainly fits the bill!

20. “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield

Graduates have enormous potential.

However, the fear of getting into a challenging world for the first time can sometimes take away all the fun. 

This is where Natasha Bedingfield‘s “Unwritten” track comes in, with relatable lyrics to help you unleash your full potential.

In this song, Bedingfield reminds everyone of the significant milestones in life. 

The track is inspiring and moving at the same time and appropriate for an occasion as huge as graduation.  

21. “Graduation (Friends Forever)” by Vitamin C

There’s no better way to sum up your feelings than listening to a soothing masterpiece that has been around for nearly two decades. 

Vitamin C‘s “Graduation” song is about friends and the future, helping calm down the moment’s emotions.

The fact that this track has stood the test of time is only because the lyrics are eternally relatable.

22. “100 Years” by Five For Fighting

Songwriter John Ondrasik sums up the significant milestones in his life in the track “100 Years.”

And graduation being such a memorable moment in anyone’s life, it’s easy to see why this song fits the occasion.

Be it a high school, college, or medical school, graduations are just as important as they come.

23. “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” by Green Day

Billie Joe Anderson (the lead singer of Green Day) was going through heartbreak when he wrote “Good Riddance” in 1993.

His girlfriend had just moved to Ecuador to pursue her education, leaving him in despair. 

The song is about making peace with the fact that people will come into your life and leave when least expected.

And what are graduation ceremonies without broken hearts?

24. “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus

The prospect of finishing school is exciting.

But it can be scary for many reasons, the most significant being stepping foot into a challenging new world for the first time.

 “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus is all about facing the obstacles that stand between you and your dreams, hoping you will come out unscathed.

25. “Congratulations” by Post Malone Ft. Quavo

Few things are as crystal clear as the lyrics of the “Congratulations” song by Post Malone and Quavo.

The two renowned artists collaborated to compile a classic piece that honors anyone who deserves a congratulatory message for their effort. 

And if there’s one aspect of life that requires perseverance, hard work, and dedication, it is completing an educational adventure.

26. “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang

A timeless tune that dates back to many years ago, “Celebration” is about accepting change and having fun.

Pursuing academic excellence can be intimidating. 

But in the midst of it all, students should never forget the little things in life like smiling, laughing, and having fun.

27. “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey

Don’t Stop Believin’ has a clear message to anyone pursuing their dreams; perseverance.

It’s no surprise that this tune has continued to spice up many graduation ceremonies today.

28. “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts

I’ll Be There For You” addresses the significance of loyalty between friends in the face of adversity.

It is used in a popular sitcom, “Friends”, and relays an important message that graduates should have at the culmination of their academic journey.

29. “Raise Your Glass” by Pink

Max Martin and Pink wrote this song to celebrate anyone who may feel left out from a crowd.

It is a catchy tune with an immediate impact, making graduates appreciate themselves for who they are and where they come from.

30. “We Are The Champions” by Queen

There’s no hidden meaning behind Queen’s “We Are the Champions“.

It highlights the need to have the right mindset when pursuing your dreams.

This is an obvious question for anyone on an educational adventure. 

The enthusiastic tone emphasizes the feel-good factor that comes with winning against all odds.

31. “Party In The USA” by Miley Cyrus

Another one from Miley Cyrus.

Graduation is your chance to celebrate your perseverance and commitment to your dreams.

And there’s no better way to celebrate it than listening to a Miley Cyrus masterpiece for the occasion.  

32. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds

This sentimental track depicts the singer’s emotions, imploring his friend not to neglect their relationship once they go separate ways.

While graduations are as exciting as they come, they mark the end of many relationships and the beginning of new chapters.

33. “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper‘s “School’s Out” describes the emotions after school.

The lyrics, “no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty schools”, indicate that school is not only over for another memorable summer holiday but forever. 

Alice Cooper has mentioned that he was inspired to write the song when reflecting on the greatest three minutes of someone’s life.

Also, he’s stated that a favorite line from a Bowery Boys film inspired the lyrics.

34. “Closing Time” by Semisonic

Your guess?

Closing time means the end.

Right?

Semisonic‘s hit song with a similar name outlines the need to make the most of the moment without worrying about the future.

It is a motivating song that encourages students to maximize their last days at grad school before going into the real world.

35. “Hey Look, Ma! I Made It!” by Panic! At The Disco

You deserve a pat on the back for making everything possible.

And “Hey Look, Ma! I Made It!” is one of those tracks that help you relieve the inherent pressure that precedes success. 

For a graduate who’s had to deal with plenty of obstacles along the way, there’s no excuse not to dedicate this song to yourself on your big day.

36. “Graduation Song (On My Way)” by Pevan & Sarah

On My Way” is a celebratory tune highlighting the challenging journey towards completing your education.

The optimistic tone suits anyone walking across the stage to receive their diploma as family and close friends watches.

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Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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